Episode 8 - The Illusion

(16 November 1978)
Writer: John McGreevey.
Director: Walter Alzmann.
Music: Alexander Courage.



"In my family one of the earliest truths we learned was the inevitability of change. We saw this in the march of the seasons across the land, and in the sometimes bewildering growth of our brothers and sisters. As World War Two edged closer to us all, the patterns of change accelerated, carrying some of us far from home, bringing others back to the mountain with painful consequences".


John is traveling as his job takes him away from Walton’s Mountain. Around the breakfast table the talk revolves around the old factory that J.D. Pickett, Jr. has converted to a defense plant. Later in the day, Olivia finds Verdie Foster waiting at Ike’s store for a letter from her daughter Easter. She is living in New York City working as a successful businesswoman. Ike gives Olivia a letter from John-Boy who is north of England but Verdie receives back her letter returned as ‘moved, address unknown’. Ike proudly displays his new honor roll that shows the names of men from Walton’s Mountain currently in the military. Verdie notices the colored section is separate and at the bottom of the roll. She is disappointed at the arrangement but does not mention her displeasure. Olivia is joining Corabeth and other women to roll bandages for the war effort. Corabeth suggests to Verdie that the colored women could form their own Ladies Auxiliary, but Verdie states they are already doing their part.


Jason and Erin find many local people waiting for jobs at the Pickett plant. J.D. tells Erin to show up for work tomorrow at 7 am. On the way home, they are surprised to find Easter walking on the side of the road carrying her baby daughter, Harriet. Erin praises Easter for her ambition and success in the business world, but she reacts by saying, ‘Some of the dumbest people I know have college degrees.’ Driving her home, Verdie is surprised to see her daughter but is then stunned to hear Easter is home to stay. After settling into the house Easter joins her mother for a trip to Ike’s store. Conversation turns sour, however, when Corabeth mentions the squalor present in Harlem. Easter reacts harshly to Corabeth’s words as she speaks of the conflicts and struggles to succeed in a white-dominated world. Verdie is embarrassed by her daughter’s outburst upon seeing the segregated list of white and colored military men on the honor roll.


Erin has problems adapting to the working conditions at Pickett’s. The cigar smoke, noise, and unorganized manner of the assembly line cause her aggravation until she finally quits. At home the family discuss all the people that have already quit at the Pickett plant because of the poor working conditions. Erin wants to introduce Easter to J.D. so she can place the right people into the right jobs.


Verdi is upset with her daughter and wants to know why she is so bitter. Easter finally admits that all of her years in New York City were not what she wrote about in her letters. Even though her college professor said she was brilliant in the area of personnel management and that companies would eagerly need her expertise, no company hired her. Easter found that the way of business did not permit a black woman to possess the power to hire and fire white people. Verdie says, ‘All of these years I’ve been believing a lie.’ Easter found that blacks, whites, and even her husband did not want an educated black woman.


Josh admits to his mother that he is worried because she is not happy. Verdie does not want to ruin his life like she did with Easter’s life. But Josh says he trusts his Moma. In the morning Verdie says to Easter that she is sorry about what happened. Erin arrives to ask Easter to accompany her to the Pickett plant. They attempt to convince J.D. that he needs Easter’s help but he is unconvinced that a black woman can help.


Olivia visits Verdie while she is taking down the laundry from the line. Knowing that Easter has not been a mother very long, Olivia believes that given time Easter will realize, ‘We all dream of better things for our children.’ Later, Verdie tells her daughter that her dream was a good dream and that it still is a good dream. When times were difficult their ancestors fought and got back up when beaten down. Verdie pleads with her daughter to, ‘Get back in the fight!’


Back at the Pickett plant Verdie presents J.D. with her credentials and references. Easter tells J.D. that he has the chance of a lifetime but is losing it by not being able to efficiently organize his workers. J.D. finally admits he has been having problems. Easter says she will work for two weeks and if she has not solved his problems will quit without pay. But if not hired she will go to the government’s Fair Employment Practices Commission and levy a complaint against him. J.D. reluctantly agrees to hire her. As the new Personnel Director Easter’s first act is to hire Erin as her assistant.


At Ike’s store Verdie states that Mr. Godsey is to either place her son’s name in its rightful place or to ‘kindly remove it all together’.


"In those anxious days when the rest of the world seemed to be collapsing under the assault of the Axis powers, my family and our friends were reassessing the attitudes and illusions that had sustained us in the past. Under stress, new insights were revealed, the enduring values were reafirmed, and out of the emotional crucible of the time emerged the strength and confidence on which we could stand to face the critical days ahead".


Olivia: I see you've come back with the same old suitcase.
John: Same old suit, same old husband.
Olivia: Same old wife!
John: Same old house.
Olivia: Same old room.
John: Not quite.
Olivia: What's different?
John: There's a new lump on my side of the bed.
Olivia: You wanna trade sides?
John: How about we just sleep in the middle?
Olivia: Goodnight John.
John: Goodnight 'Liv.
(they chuckle.....)



Jefferson Davis (J.D.) Pickett, Jr. has converted his father’s old factory into a defense plant (Pickett Metal Products) for the purpose of making mess kits and canteens for the pending war effort.

The Pickett plant will be working three shifts, seven day a week.

Erin is hired at sixty cents a week, forty hours each week. With overtime, J.D. says she could earn thirty-five to forty dollars a week.

Ike’s honor roll is titled ‘USA – Our Boys in Service’. It contains the names Percy F. Johns, Curtis M. Willard, Norman W. Boyer, Cecil L. Prosser on top; and the names Jody Lee Foster and Billy G. Woodruff on the bottom.

Easter Grant is divorced from her ex-husband Clint.


Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Corabeth Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards); Verdie Grant Foster (Lynn Hamilton); Josh Foster (Todd Bridges); Easter Grant (Joan Pringle); J.D. Pickett (Lewis Arquette).